Here are the reviews for all the comics I've read in March (I also included the DC books). Comments are appreciated and there are heavy spoilers below.....
Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears #2- Perhaps better then most of the issues of the previous Ennis/Crain mini but the second issue of Trail of Tears hasn't been all that great. I felt like Crain's art suffered a bit. Panels often look muddy and the backgrounds aren't that detailed (I've kind of come to suspect the opposite from Crain) but I should stress that I only picked up on this a couple of times. Overall, Crain is one of my favorite artists working at Marvel and in comics overall. His digital-esque work really helps with the look of the book. Most of this issue is dialogue (grammatically incorrect, just as you would expect Ennis to write a book about southern America from any time period). Also, how the heck does this expand on the Ghost Rider mythos, was that a older Ghost Rider at the end of the book, I thought Travis was going to become the Rider? Some of the highlights of the book was the grizzly murder scene which can make one cringe and at the end where Travis finds a bunch of bodies. Other then that, this mini isn't all that great. Crain still rocks.
Uncanny X-Men #484- Having read three Brubaker books this week, this was the weakest and so far Uncanny hasn't been the best of his work at Marvel. The series perhaps feels too unimportant when it should feel important. Maybe it's because there are only three issues left and the story is taking a bit long to pay-off, either way, this was one of the better issues of the story. We finally get a lot of team interaction (and some relationships begin to build I'm suprised that Bru is putting Alex and Lorna back together but I guess Austen and Milligan's runs just left a bad taste in my mouth concerning the classic relationship. Rachel and Korvus also get some more time). The action is fun and Tan does a great job on illustrations. I also like how Bru writes Lilandra, her scenes interested me when I went into this arc hoping to see more X-Men action as opposed to more of the Shiar.
Criminal #5- A suprising ending to the first arc of Criminal. I was once again suprised on how the issue opened with a death (in this case it was Greta and last issue it was Ivan). I actually don't like that the issue opens up that way, I mean were we supposed to think Greta would day so a shock on the second page wouldn't suprise us, especially considering that it was on the right page. Some of the interaction between Leo and Gnarles and the little girl felt kind of boring and a bit of a waste of time. Then again, Leo kept saying that he knew what was going to happen. The final moments helped to redeem the issue and I like the short little action bits, they feel more realistic which is a feeling this book has tried to achieve. Philips art is great and I can't wait for the second arc. That having been said, I thought Leo died at the end of the issue but instead he apparently lived, at least that is what Bru says in the back column. I always love the special features. This month Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Charlie Huston, Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, David Goyer, Patton Oswalt, and Charles Ardai all contribute. The roundtable idea was a good one.
Mighty Avengers #1- Considering how serious Civil War and New Avengers have been feeling, I was pleasantly suprised with the first issue of Mighty. The line-up itself and the plot really provides a lot for Frank Cho to draw. I also like the idea of Tony assembling the Avengers team that he thinks will be the best. A lot of fanboyishly (is that a word?) cool moments with the various characters and even though this is a fight, Bendis intercuts the fight with Tony and Carol picking the team. We get a ton of character-related bits and every team member gets a spotlight. I personally found there to be nothing special about thought balloons (especially when Bendis said the would be unique in that little bit in the latest Wizard Magazine). They could've easily been replaced with square interior dialogue boxes and it would've had the same effect. We aren't getting that much more of an insight into any of the characters if word balloons had not been featured. Still, this comic has all of the fun things you would expect from an Avengers comic pre-Disassembled so I'm sure older fans are having fun but I plan to stick with this title for the art and what looks to be an exciting story with a more adventure/humorous/exciting tone.
Civil War: The Initiative- I like one-shots like this, whether they are preview books or just a prologue/epilogue one-shot, when the publisher puts an A-list team on it, you know it's a must read. That's how I felt about this book. First of all, Silvestri's art is always astounding to me. I'm a huge fan of the guy and he really helped to make this one-shot special in my eyes. With that having been said, I like the way Bendis/Ellis struture this issue (especially on Brian's part, I was a bit afraid that this would have the amount of dialogue your average Ultimate Spidey issue would have but the story kept on track through most of the issue). I was suprised that the Collective (especially considering how much I hated the New Avengers arc of the same name) was asked to join Omega Flight. The scene was really cool. I also liked the T-Bolts bit. Silvestri draws a great Venom and I loved Penance's line "I want you to hurt me. Pain is what activates my powers. And I'm already in pain. Pain you can't imagine. And I want more.".... I also liked seeing Bullseye telling his target to inform the other heroes of his intentions. The Ms. Marvel chapter was good, once again I really enjoyed the handling of these characters. I was a bit thrown by the mention of Cap's death but I hadn't read Cap #25 but then again, is Carol correct about her facts? So, Cap's alive or did I misinterpret that?. The final pages really spoke to what the post-CW MU is going to look like. Fun one-shot with a lot of content.
Captain America #25- Great issue. This issue took everything I've loved about Bru/Epting's run and really delivered one crazy ride in the span of 32 pages. Fantastic job, that's all I really have to say. I think the emotional that was felt from reading this issue has really sunk into me. I'm at a loss for word on how good this issue felt to read. Brilliant job.
Blade #7- Guggenheim/Chaykin are a pretty good creative team when it comes to an action scene (despite Blade's dialogue, he always striked me as the silent type like the Punisher) and that is this issue's only highlight. Nothing seems to have that much meaning. Basically a vampire is destined to kill Blade but Blade lives due to having put on a necklace that he stole from a vampire he killed and the necklace allowed him to live. There is no emotional feeling in this. It's a basic plot that isn't anything amazing and unfortunately I'd rather see something like this be allowed to stretch out, putting this in a span of 22 pages makes the story feel rushed and convenient as opposed to genuine coincidences. It's like comparing an episode of CSI: Miami to something like your average HBO drama where the storytelling and emotion is more riveting. Chaykin's visuals are also starting to get boring, although his take on Blade replacing his hand with a stake was pretty nice.
Ghost Rider #9- I think Way should try doing what he did in this title to Wolverine: Origins. Ghost Rider, was suprisingly enjoyable this month. Tex has some great visuals and the issue reads quick but you aren't disappointed. The action is great (Jack O'Lantern hitting the truck and Tex's drawing of GR walking toward him was retro and the scene where Harry suprises GR was pretty cool as well). Tex might just have one of the more definitive takes I've seen on the character besides Clayton Crain. Nothing is wrong with this issue because it isn't trying to be what it isn't (Blade is trying to make you care about the character, Origins is trying to make you be suprised at Wolverine's past).... this was a true action issue of a series that is suprisingly improving and becoming similar to Jonah Hex in many respects.
Moon Knight #8- I freaking love this series. I thought after last issue that it would head downhill but this issue proved me wrong. As a single issue, it isn't the strongest but as part of a larger story it just feels great to read. I'll just start out saying that I loved several things about this including the opening flashback, Khonshu walking around all the time, seeing a different yet realistic side of Cap, watching Marc investigate a crime scene then to go check up on Marlene and then to go beat the crap out of a rapist.... it was just great. Finch's art is great for this character and the part where Spector inserts the hook into the guy's cheek is just as brilliant as when he ripped off Bushman's face. Great issue. I just love the personality (or in some cases, personalities) of this character.
New Avengers #28- This title has really shown a different kind of "Avengers" and this issue just proves it. The way Bendis has everyone interact is just great. Cage appears to be getting used to being a leader (speaking of Cage, Yu drew the hell out of that escape scene at the grocery store) and I loved the interactions between the characters. The way Bendis wrote the kitchen scene was great ("Oh great, Civil War two") and I also enjoyed seeing a bit on how this team was formed. Iron Man and Ms. Marvel deciding to use Cap's body as bait just seemed to be on par with hiring supervillains and cloning gods. Especially after having read The Confession, yet then again, Iron Man does use phrases like "sore loser" to Cap... Tony just seems different and unpredictable thanks to Bendis and co.. The whole flashback collides really nicely with the present at the end (Logan and the Silver Samurai's interaction was also well written). Yu draws some great pin-ups and splash pages.
Thunderbolts #112- This issue has locked me onto the title for the remainder of the Ellis/Deodato Jr. run. It's not action heavy and I'm sure older fans might not like the gritty nature or new direction of the team (these people seem to barely want any redemption) but the way this team interacts as a strike force (unlike other teams where everyone seems to be in everyone's business) is interesting and I am starting to really like how Deodato Jr. has changed his style (I still look at this Incredible Hulk covers and miss his older style of art). Ellis puts so much content into this issue. From Osborn checking on his team and breaking down as he picks his next targets to the interviews, from looking at D-list unregistered heroes to how the T-Bolts are effecting the media.... this just feels so unique. Funny because right before I read this issue, my expectations were lower. Thankfully I'm not a fan of these characters so I don't feel like Ellis is disrespecting them and even then, I really hope Ellis remains on this title for longer then a year.
Civil War: The Confession- Alex Maleev is one of my favorite artists. There, got that out of the way. Now, taking a look at the story- I liked it. First genuine emotion I've seen in anything related to Civil War (not counting some of the Initiative stuff) and I don't want to look at it as Civil War was King Arthur's fault even though I know some people have posted online that they thought that was what Bendis was going for. I personally found it to be an interesting explanation for Iron Man's role. Take it at face value, his past experiences have placed him in a position where Tony truly feels that he is right but as he says at the end, it wasn't worth it. The final pages between Tony and Steve were interesting on Steve's part but I found Tony's response to be... wierd. Not wrong, but just odd. Once again, Maleev is excellant and usually when him and Bendis collaborate, I find myself to be really happy.
Wolverine #52- Simone Bianchi does a really nice job by putting his style to use in various creative ways on this title, it helps that he has a lot to draw. Only three issues in and a lot of locales have been visited, and seeing Bianchi illustrate a Black Panther/Sabretooth fight was a treat. As for the story- we are halfway through and similar to what has been going on in Origins, nothing revolutionary has been revealed. It better be one hell of a reveal to be dragged out for this long. We get some iffy narrative that just feels like typical Logan, nothing special at all. The plot itself, even though having jumped around quite a bit, still feels too condensed. Feels like a clipshow with random cuts in the action and dialogue. In short, I plan to drop this series after #55, I think by then I will have had enough.
Daredevil #95- Wow, this made my week. What an issue. Michael Lark is doing some of the best work of his career on this title, him and Ed have always worked so well together and Daredevil is no exception by any means. The intense and very well written opening action sequence proved to be a great way to introduce Matt to the "new" Hell's Kitchen. The supporting cast and the sharp internal monologues by Matt are both present as well. As for the the storyline involving the Gladiator, well the murder in Rykers was so brutal and Matt says he wasn't lying so I don't think based on the ending that Melvin is obviously the culprit. Pushing a guy into a wall and down the stairs is a bit different then having sharp objects shoved into someone's spine. Yet at the same time, we've seen the cover of Matt fighting the Gladiator so I guess Melvin is mentally sick and then there is always the mind control possibility. Whatever it may be, I'm sure the answers will prove to help make this third arc really exciting. Great issue.
52 #44- Another great issue, a fight pretty much breaks out between Black Adam and the four horsemen. The writers have helped to make Adam stay on the side of the good guys but we still get to see him go back to his murderous ways. Snapping Sobek's mouth, and some of the other brutal slayings really helped to make this a fantastic issue. I like how this serves as a prelude to WWIII (I liked seeing how Isis's death is what prompts Black Adam to go to war and I can't wait to see how that plays out). DC is really exciting me with this storyline and these last several issues look like they will be the best. This feels like the perfect adaptation of a weekly television program based on the DCU, the structure and the strength of the story so far have made it enjoyable. Great job by Barrows on art as well.
Jonah Hex #17- This month's Palmiotti/Gray issue of Hex felt too unimportant for me. I mean, this is once again why All-Star Superman works and why Detective Comics is beginning to work but titles like this and Blade begin to fall behind... the one-shot stories need to tie-in to each other in more inventive ways. Hex training Black is fun but I really end up getting a stale feeling out of their relationship. Hex's all too rare tongue-in-cheek humor doesn't help and I really wish we can get back into the man's past as opposed to a two issue story on a character that I don't end up caring for all that much in the end no matter how evil the crimes against her were. Although one of my favorite qualities of this series is present in this issue and that is the action. The various shootouts and especially the final one on the street make this series worth the wait and Noto does a great job of setting up a kinetic feeling.
Justice League of America #6- This is the final chapter of The Tornado's Path (the next issue looks like it will be the official "getting together of the team") was okay. Once again, I'm on the edge about Benes art but it could be worse and I'm getting a bit used to it. The story itself felt awkward at points. I felt like Meltzer was making the moment too over emotional. As I read it, I really felt like there was too much going on for one (or a couple) central feeling(s) to come across. Other then that, this had the iconic moments. You could see that Meltzer is a fan and is trying, or in this case doing the characters a great service by trying something new yet still keeping some of the old ideas. The various actions of the league members showed how they work as a team and I loved the double page spread of Amazo and Red Tornado.
52 #45- This series just keeps getting better for a DC fan such as myself. There is somewhat of a cliche when characters that are the antagonists, attempt to become the protagonists, that in the end they just revert back to the antagonists. Readers of JSA have seen Black Adam play on both sides of the fence and with a 52 part mini-series, where quite a bit of time has been devoted to Black Adam, his transition from villain to hero to villain again comes off as natural. I look at this series like a well-written weekly drama, yet it is on par with Lost or Heroes or 24... we get some crazy action as well. Seeing Black Adam let loose was entertaining and I'm looking forward to what happens on the island. I also enjoyed seeing Checkmate and the Suicide Squad's reaction to the events. Batista and Igle did a pretty good job. I guess there won't be anymore origin stories.
Superman #660- I understand this is meant to be a story about the Prankster, and perhaps the issue is meant to feel a little retro with the narration, dialogue, and plot but this issue still bored me. Didn't seem relevant (why is it that Morrison is the only person who can seem to make one-shot stories that are a part of an ongoing series, so good?) and that really hurt the story. Excessive narration, lame plot with outdated dialogue.... this has been a criticism I would normally give to Chris Claremont but not Busiek, I guess this was just an effort to get the title out on time? Manley has some nice work but is nowhere near Pacheco in my opinion.
Wonder Woman #5- I really wish Heinberg/Dodson got to finish their run because by continuing without that one final issue, it just feels incomplete. We still don't see where Diana was heading in her journey to return to being Wonder Woman (yes, last issue she put on the costume but we never saw what happened after that... even though we already know what has happened thanks to Justice Leauge of America). Pfeifer's idea of an Athenian help center is okay but when he decided to put in that scene of the woman killing her husband I just felt that it was pathetic. Then again, I may just not understand abuse but how stupid can someone be (yes even after having suffered abuse) to watch the Max Lord murder and have that inspire them? Wow, I've seen some stupidity here in America, but that just felt too forced. Also, I don't get why this is so important to Sarge Steel and why he sends Diana who just finished working on a big case, to go investigate. The ending had me feeling a bit clueless, were we supposed to take something out of that ending other then the guy died in a very bloody manner? Was there something more to that, that I'm not getting? The art by Borges and Diaz was nice, Wonder Woman still looks very great. The plot itself was a lot better then most fill-in issues these days and I was suprised to see Diana acting toward an enemy in a manner similar to her behavior during Rucka's run. I thought if anything, that Heinberg made her more lighthearted, similar to what Robinson, Dini, and Morrison did to Batman.
52 #46- Okay, so Black Adam goes to the Island of Misfit Scientists and you expect a huge fight issue. Well, I liked the issue up until a certain point. I thought the fight itself was great, Ollife illustrated some great visuals of Black Adam going up against a ton of machines. I understand this is comics and I don't expect too much realism but there are certain lines that seem corny (especially for a super-hero comic where just about everything you say out loud seems odd). I mean, intercutting the scientists going crazy and Veronica Cale's sex drive and saddness, just doesn't go with a series that has had solid emotional moments in the past (and even some content that a couple of people have deemed excessive). To see Black Adam get taken down by a bunch of scientists was plausible but I was a bit suprised about how everyone was acting, and that panel where they are kicking and cheering just felt childish to me. Not only was there that, but apparently Hannibal lived and Lex Luthor was really sitting in his private room. That just felt random in the way that it was written. The only redeeming quality of the issue was seeing the JSA and Al at the end. Kubert's art on the back-up was good, as expected.
Detective Comics #829-830- I'm not really sure what the general response to these Moore/Clarke fill-in issues were, but I enjoyed them a lot. I read both issues at once, they felt like a short little action story. Clarke's art was suprisingly nice and the plot had a Die Hard feel to it. Just a nice dose of action but not "stupid action" where there isn't any plot to back it up. I felt that Moore put in a lot of fun moments whether it be Tim's encounter with C4 or Bruce jumping out the window with Vox.... these issues just provided some nice escapist fun. That's all I really have to say.
Flash: Fastest Man Alive #10- In the same way that I was suprised by Clarke's art on Detective, Paco Diaz's work on Flash was nice to look at as well (both had a Pete Woods-ish feel). Let me start off by saying that this all is a huge step up from Bilson/DeMeo's run. Yet at the same time, the story felt too simple and things that I thought should've been used in a different way to have a bigger effect, weren't used (i.e. the return of Captain Cold who I can't recall seeing during 52 or in any of the One Year Later titles). Also, I felt that Zoom was underused. In the past, especially when Wally was the Flash, Johns only used that character when Wally was going up against a huge challenge with a lot of consequence and based on this issue, I felt that the stakes weren't so high. At least Guggenheim is treating Bart like an adult as opposed to the way I felt Bilson/DeMeo treated him, I guess Guggenheim just needs some more issues in my opinion so I can have a more clear view of where the story is going.
Justice Society of America #4- Like the final issue of Meltzer's first JLA arc, I felt like the ending to The Next Age was somewhat underwhelming. Not in a childish way like I felt that this week's 52 was, but in a more typical way (not so much cliches as opposed to the plot playing out like everyone with a pulse expected it to). I still get a huge "fanboyish" joy out of seeing these characters interact on this team and this felt like some of the early issues of the previous volume where the JSA was split up and tackled multiple problems at the same time. The two things that I disliked was how Hourman suddenly forgives Damage and how Ted's son, the new Wildcat, joins the team. I mean a team memeber is injured, but wait, the person who caused the injury jumps back into the field being confident of his courage only to suddenly act overly dramatic because he is scarred. Also, why did Ted's anti-social son have to make the decision he did? The whole long hair smoker who didn't want to be involved with his dad suddenly does an about face? Sorry if I'm being childish but as I find myself trying to type what I think, I'm having trouble conveying what it is about these two scenes that created an underwhelming feeling. That aside, Dale did a great job artistically and I'm looking forward to seeing Johns do what he did previously and deliver years worth of entertaining stories.
52 #47- As the series begins to near the big finale and WWIII, it looks like the writers will be using the final couple of issues to include every character who has had a major storyline throughout the book. This issue alone we have Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Renee, Intergang, Animal Man, Steel, Will and the rest of Oolong Island.... the writers manage to capture good characterization in the short yet important scenes. Camuncoli and Kerschl (man has he changed styles) provide some decent art. As for the plot points, I really liked seeing Bruce and Tim again and Diana meeting with Rama Kushna. Recently this past week I looked at the January 2006 issue of Wizard to look over the 52 article where 52 important things about the series were named and it seems the writers have accomplished their goals..... except that we still haven't seen two JLA'ers have sex, I can live with that.
Action Comics #847- Renato Guedes has always had an interesting style and I've yet to check out OMAC (I'm not a Bruce Jones fan so I don't plan on checking out the series) but Guedes really has a dynamic and colorful style that I'd like to see be put to use. I was a little suprised about how his Pa Kent didn't really look like how Kubert has been drawing him in my opinion but the rest of the issue was pretty decent. McDuffie appears to have been given the undesirable task of writing a fill-in. He had to come up with a story to stop Action from being delayed yet tell that story with Superman already trapped in the Phantom Zone. The story is nice and there isn't anything wrong with it, at the same time it doesn't delve too much deeper into the relationship between Superman and the Kents then what has already been seen. It was a good issue, but one can't help but wish that the epic Last Son storyline was still going on.
Wonder Woman #6- So this is the big run we were supposed to be anticipating with much excitement, having already been named a critically acclaimed run in the solicits? Lets start with the art, Drew Johnson returns to the title but similar to his recent 52 issues, the art looks sketchy when you take the time to look at it, however Picoult has put in enough dialogue to take my eyes off the art. Why is Diana acting like this? The whole "not a human" angle has already been explored so why is there so much time being devoted to that aspect of Diana. Also, for what is being proclaimed a "definitive run" by DC before the issue has come out.... where is the action? Why does the plot feel basic and full of various attempts at humor when Diana may have had a year off and as Heinberg showed, returned with a more lighter attitude similar to Batman, yet Diana is different then Bruce. She is a warrior, I actually liked how Will Pfeifer recently showed her and how Greg Rucka portrayed her. Wonder Woman should be somewhat dark but not in the same way Batman is. Maybe Gail Simone will take over the book next and I'll be happy but for now, I'm not impressed with this title in this competitive industry. It does nothing to rise above the rest of the DCU titles especially considering that I'm a huge fan of two of Picoult's novels (19 Minutes, The Tenth Circle).
Batman #664- The only basic problem with this book at the moment is a huge feeling of being left underwhelmed. I don't expect Grant to always write the next best thing but at the same time I was hoping that each issue of Batman, like Seven Soldiers and New X-Men, would contain something profound that might even break the rules or change the status quo. Still, this title isn't bad by any means, in fact this issue was quite enjoyable. Morrison introduces some more gritty aspects of crime into his run. We get the basic street level action but with a bit of a different plot then we've seen in the Bat books in a while. For a second at the end I thought I was looking at a new Bane but alas it appears to be just another thug, still we get some Morrison crazyness in the form of mentions of the black casebook (I'm curious to see what that is). Kubert's art is great for this title. From the first page in Gibraltar to the streets of Gotham, Kubert's style is really refreshing to see on this book.